Quinnipiac: Santorum Up 6 Points Over Romney in Pa.

Tuesday, 03 Apr 2012 07:04 AM

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Native son Rick Santorum leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 6 points among likely voters in Pennsylvania’s GOP primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Santorum leads the race at 41 percent to Romney's 35, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 10 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 7.

And Pennsylvania GOP voters also thought Romney's Etch A Sketch moment a week ago was an unfair attack, with pollsters calling it a "one-week wonder" that has not damaged Romney.

The poll found that some 6 percent of likely voters said they had not made up their mind and a whopping 37 percent who did name a candidate said they could change their minds.

The poll, conducted from March 27 through April 1, surveyed 647 likely Repub1ican primary voters with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.9 percentage points.

Santorum is favored by men over Romney,  43 to 33 percent; women are split among the two, Santorum at 39, Romney at 38 percent. Santorum also leads 53 to 24 percent among white evangelical Christians; 50 to 32 percent among tea party members; and 48 to 30 percent among self-described conservatives. Romney is ahead 45 to 29 percent among self-described moderates.

“The Keystone State is critical for Sen. Rick Santorum, the native son who must win to reasonably continue the race for the presidency,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Can Santorum hold on against Gov. Mitt Romney’s money machine which has turned the tide in other states, washing away Santorum’s early leads?

“Pennsylvania is a critical swing state, so the Republican primary winner wants to make a good showing in April to bolster chances for success in November.”

In the likability department, Santorum edges out Romney. The former governor earns a 59 to 22 percent margin among Pennsylvania likely Republican primary voters who say they have a favorable opinion of him,  compared to 64 to 24 percent favorable for Santorum, a slightly negative 33 to 36 percent for Paul and a positive 44 to 39 percent favorable for Gingrich.

It’s better for the Republican Party if Santorum stays in the race, 57 percent of likely primary voters say, while 33 percent say it’s better for the party if Santorum drops out.

According to Quinnipiac, "Pennsylvania likely Republican primary voters also see native son Santorum as more principled than Romney, saying:

• 52 to 7 percent that Santorum has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, with 36 percent saying about the same;
• 25 to 14 percent that Romney has more honesty and integrity than most people in public life, with 55 percent saying about the same;
• 49 to 8 percent that Santorum changes his position less often than most public figures, with 38 percent saying about the same;
• 27 to 7 percent that Romney changes his position more than most public figures, with 60 percent saying about the same;
• 49 to 41 percent that Santorum changes his position on issues because of politics rather than principle;
• 74 to 17 percent that Romney changes his position on issues because of politics rather than principle."

Among the more interesting findings, likely Republican primary voters said the Etch A Sketch criticism of Romney was an unfair attack, 52 to 37 percent.

“It looks like the Etch A Sketch gaffe was a one-week wonder and has run its course as far as damaging Romney, if it damaged him at all,” Malloy said.

“Rick Santorum can take some solace in knowing Republican voters, at least in Pennsylvania, believe he flip flops with less frequency than Mitt Romney.”


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